Christopher Barrett, an expert on food security, international trade and professor of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, discusses increasing economic opportunity in Africa.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has been enjoying a renaissance overlooked by many. Real output growth has more than doubled for the region as a whole, to more than five percent in the past decade, rivaling the ‘tiger’ economies of Asia.
“Telecommunications, construction, retail and other sectors are booming, foreign direct and portfolio investment have increased appreciably, and most of the region’s governments are now democratically elected and transfer power peacefully following reasonably free, open elections.
“Problems remain, and quite serious ones in perhaps a dozen or so of the region’s countries. But this will be the region of greatest population growth and urbanization in the world over the coming generation, income growth rates will outpace those of the high-income nations by a large margin, and U.S. businesses will increasingly look to Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Real wages in China and other countries will grow and make them less attractive relative to the more stable and prosperous African states with large and reasonably well-educated workforces. Increased trade with Africa is mutually desirable, as a way for the United States to tap one of the world’s emerging market hubs and to help reinforce development in the world’s still-poorest region.”
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